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Summer 2002 Table of Contents
Versión Español de este artículo (Spanish Version)
By Mary Ann Siller, Co-Chair of National Education Program,
American Federation of the Blind
On April 24, a bipartisan press conference announcing the introduction of the Instructional Materials Accessibility Act (IMAA) was held in Washington, D.C. The bill numbers for the IMAA are H.R. 4582 and S.2246. The IMAA 2002 legislation is the result of two years of intensive efforts involving representatives of the blindness community, AFB Textbooks and Instructional Materials Solutions Forum, Association of American Publishers (AAP), braille software developers, producers of materials in braille, and parents. The efforts were undertaken to improve the efficiency of the conversion process from print format to braille and other formats because K-12 students often encountered lengthy delays in obtaining current instructional materials in accessible formats. In some cases, the materials were never made available in braille. H.R. 4582 and S 2246 are designed to correct these inequities, and to insure that the instructional materials needed by blind and print-disabled children are met in the same timely manner as materials for sighted children.
Among the key provisions, the legislation would: provide for the establishment of a well-structured, standardized national electronic file format to be used for the conversion of K-12 textbooks and other print instructional material into accessible formats; mandate that publishers provide core instructional materials in the national electronic file format to a central repository for their timely and convenient distribution for conversion; establish and authorize funding for the national repository responsible for the receipt, cataloging, storage and distribution of the standardized electronic files provided by publishers; and require states to develop and implement state-wide plans designed to ensure that K-12 students who are blind or visually impaired, or who have other print disabilities, have access to print instructional materials in formats they can use at the same time such materials are provided to students without such disabilities.
There are three Representatives from Texas who are key members of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. This committee will review H.R. 4582 (for information, go to http://www.afb.org/textbooks.asp). They are from Dallas (Sam Johnson), Houston ( John Culberson) and the Rio Grande Valley (Ruben Hinojosa). Ruben Hinojosa signed on as a cosponsor in May 2002. At www.afb.org/textbooks.asp you will find the following informative documents: members of the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate that will be associated with the IMAA (fax and phone numbers are included), the section by section description of the IMAA, the actual bills, endorsing organizations, and the current cosponsors of the IMAA 2002 in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate.
If you have an opinion on this legislation, you should let your voice be heard by doing the following:
It is best to fax the letters, because mail is still slow in getting to Congress and e-mails are not immediately read. Please send a copy of your letters to Mary Ann Siller at 214-352-3214 (fax). We keep track of opinions expressed about relevant legislation.
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Last Revision: August 27, 2003